This October, we’re celebrating fall with new work from four of our contributors.
Becoming A Rice Pot
She held the rice pot too
close to her bosom each time
she had to take a cup of it.
Once she would take as
much, she would keep back
a fistful. She never wanted
the rice pot to be empty.
Keeping back, she told me
years later, is restraint. When
you make a good home,
remember, holding back
a little every time will
save you the magic.
When he called me last
summer, I wanted to hold
back a little of myself, but
a sudden gust of Kalbaisakhi
changed the conversation.
Author of whorelight (Hawakal, Aug 2017), Linda Ashok is the 2017 Charles Wallace India Fellow in Creative Writing (Poetry) at the University of Chichester, UK. Her poems and reviews have appeared in several publications, online and in print, including The McNeese Review, Friends Journal, Axolotl, Skylight 47, Vinyl, The Big Bridge Anthology of Contemporary Indian Poets, Mascara Literary Review, The Rumpus, Stirring – A Sundress Publication, Expound, and others. Linda is the Founder/President of RædLeaf Foundation for Poetry & Allied Arts and sponsors the annual RL Poetry Award (since 2013). More at: lindaashok.com
A metal-throated hummingbird
tucks through a crack in the bus window.
We duck and dodge, rough our hands
through our clothes when we feel him.
We watch as he murmurs through the air,
but we don’t yet love the beautiful bird.
It’s only when the animal flies into Lucite,
and falls like a bullet casing onto the floor
that we claim him as our beloved thing.
A woman kneels to cup our bird, and we hold
our breath when his wings begin to blur.
It’s natural to love impossible things.
The bird swoops and flutters, hovers
like the Holy Spirit above our heads.
As children, my cousin and I once
dug into the side of our mountain,
a terrible brown work.
That morning we’d made the cold walk
to the hospital and watched
his mother for a long time.
She was unchained from her machines,
shrinking into ordinary.
It was our first death,
and we looked at our small hands.
But no, my cousin insisted,
these are not our hands,
they are bear hands.
And we walked to our mountain,
shaped our cave:
one meter, two meters, three.
We bears were making a home.
We roared, and shook off our human bones,
until angels howled like dogs
in the valley below.
Jacob Shores-Argüello is a Costa Rican American poet and fiction writer. His second book Paraíso was selected for the inaugural CantoMundo Poetry Prize and will be coming out in December 2017. Jacob is the recipient of a Fulbright Fellowship, the Dzanc Books ILP International Literature Award, The Fine Arts Work Center Fellowship in Provincetown, the Djerassi Resident Artist’s Fellowship, and the Amy Clampitt residency in Lenox, MA. His work appears in The New Yorker, Poetry Magazine, and The Oxford American.
I was so dumb. I thought your suffering was something I could solve, or at least push out of sight,
like the dead falcon we found in the forest and carried back home under steel-blue night to bury.
I thought death was a story we’d tell ourselves later, and laugh. Instead, you stopped sharing
things with me, except the poems, which I didn’t even know you’d been writing. I was your only
reader. That summer in the High Peaks your drafts piled up on the picnic table under a paper-weight,
edges shimmering in the wind like long, silver wings. You were newly thirteen. I was half-way
through eleven. I began to write back. I thought we could live together this way, side by side,
not speaking, watching ink run like waves across the page. How could we have known
what the water would do, that the depth pressure would pull us apart, that time would come
towards us like a motorboat, soundless, amorphous. That love is an agony we have to enter alone.
Catherine Pond lives in Los Angeles where she is a Ph.D. student at the University of Southern California. She is Assistant Director of the NY State Summer Writers Institute and co-founder of the online literary magazine Two Peach (with Julia Anna Morrison). Her poems and essays have appeared in over 30 magazines, including Narrative, Boston Review, and the LA Review of Books.
There’s nothing else like it, my father says. He has spent his life
admiring this light, photographing the long tubes
of glass. All heated by hand torches, and cannon, ribbon
and crossfire burners. Bent into symbols
by men like himself, then filled with noble gases. And so I have
come to treasure the red wings of flying stallions
above the highway, the blue trim of diners. The holiness
of a movie theatre marquee, in the hours
after a storm. We sit on the hood of his car, let it wash our faces.
Through the dark lattice of the earpiece, the voice of my mother
falters as she tells me she’ll enjoy the racehorses
unless she finds out she’s dying. But she has been dying
all of her life, a leaf bronzing in the wind
like a miracle small enough for a child. I feel around for nickels
in the coin slot, add my thumbprint to the clouds
of oil on the faceplate. I tell her everything will be okay
and watch the raindrops zigzag down the
plastic windows. A bus rumbles to a stop and I say I have to go.
My father seated at the upright piano, his hands fluttering
like injured birds over the keys. He’s singing
a hymn about redemption, the terrible sweetness of
dying, his bare feet pumping the brass
pedals like he’s weaving the notes on a floor loom. I look
out the window, the last light jagged and red
behind the mountains. He folds down the fallboard
and turns to ask what I thought. Snow
begins to gather on the sill and I do my best to assure him.
Zack Strait is pursuing his Ph.D. at Florida State University. His work has recently appeared in Ploughshares and is forthcoming in Poetry.